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Russia fires deputy defense minister jailed on bribery charges and extends his arrest

Russian authorities have formally dismissed a deputy defense minister jailed on bribery charges and accused by Kremlin critics of living a lavish lifestyle, Russian media reported Thursday. A court ordered that his pretrial detention be extended for three more months.

Timur Ivanov, 48, is one of several senior military officers arrested on corruption charges in recent months. He was a close associate of Sergei Shoigu, whom President Vladimir Putin replaced as defense minister last month.

Ivanov, arrested in April, was charged with taking an especially large bribe. His lawyers said he maintains his innocence. The Basmanny District Court in Moscow on Thursday extended his detention pending investigation and trial until at least Sept. 23. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Russian media, citing an online registry of government officials, said Thursday that Ivanov was dismissed from his post. His lawyer Denis Baluyev confirmed the dismissal in comments to Russian business news site RBK. It wasn’t immediately clear from the reports when exactly Ivanov was fired.

Other top military officials arrested in recent months include deputy chief of the Russian military general staff Lt. Gen. Vadim Shamarin; Gen. Ivan Popov, a former top commander in Russia’s offensive in Ukraine; and Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, head of the Defense Ministry’s personnel directorate. All three have been accused of bribery.

According to the Defense Ministry’s website, Ivanov was appointed in 2016 by a presidential decree. He oversaw property management, housing and medical support for the military, as well as construction projects.

Ivanov’s arrest came nearly a month after Putin called on the Federal Security Service to “keep up a systemic anti-corruption effort” and pay special attention to state defense procurement.

Russian media reported that Ivanov oversaw some of the construction in Mariupol — a Ukrainian port city that was devastated by bombardment and occupied by Russian forces early in the war. Ivanov has been sanctioned by both the United States and European Union.

Zvezda, the official TV channel of the Russian military, reported in summer 2022 that the ministry was building an entire residential block in Mariupol and showed Ivanov inspecting construction sites and newly erected residential buildings.

That same year, the team of the late Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, alleged Ivanov and his family had been enjoying luxurious trips abroad, lavish parties and owning elite real estate. The activists also alleged that Ivanov’s wife, Svetlana, divorced him in 2022 to avoid sanctions and continued living a lavish lifestyle.

By The Associated Press

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